Toshiba surprised the AV world today with the announcement it has applied to join the Blu-ray Disc Association.
The company has had a somewhat chequered history with Blu-ray, having lost a very public format war against Sony, with its HD DVD product now languishing in the same place that Betamax resided some years before.
Toshiba has spoken to TechRadar regarding its decision to adopt the Blu-ray format, explaining that the company has been playing a rather long game of 'wait and see' with Blu-ray.
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Olivier van Wynedaele, Assistant General Manager, Marketing, Consumer Products, Toshiba European Operations, chatted to TechRadar this morning about Toshiba's about-turn with the Blu-ray format and explained exactly why it has taken them so long for Blu-ray to win the company over:
"We have been tracking the market. We were looking to see if Blu-ray would become mass-market and see if we were to consider investing into it."
So does this mean that Toshiba now see Blu-ray as a mass market proposal? Not exactly according to van Wynedaele: "Blu-ray is not yet what DVD has become. But it is grabbing a bigger portion of the market in some countries, including the UK, and it is important the Toshiba is there to support it."
Toshiba is hoping that its large UK presence in the DVD player market will give it some foothold with Blu-ray when it releases products towards the end of the year: "In the UK we are number one for DVD players, and to ignore the Blu-ray portion of the market now would be nonsense, so it would be important we go there," van Wynedaele explained.
While van Wynedaele admits that Toshiba "has been looking closely at [Blu-ray] since we decided to withdraw from the HD DVD market" he can't explain quite why the decision was made today.
He does believe, however, that web connectivity has something to do with it: "Most of the products that are being introduced now are Profile 2.0, and so connected to the internet.
"This was a key point of the HD DVD technology and we thought it was important to have a product based around it.
"The web capabilities of Blu-ray weren't that clear in the beginning, but it is now a prominent feature and we feel ready to support it and go forward with BD."